Penny Paderewski is the Democratic candidate for New Castle supervisor. She has served the Town of New Castle as an example for about 27 years, including as comptroller, deputy town administrator and currently as town administrator. This interview was edited for formatting:
Patch: Tell me about yourself?
Paderewski: I have lived in New Castle since 1984. I am married to Allan Bednowitz, PhD. I have 3 children, all of whom graduated from HGHS. I am an avid reader, love to travel and spend time with my friends—all of which I wish I had more time to do. I am a quilter and love to spend time with my children and husband—again, I wish I had more time to do!
Patch: Why should people vote for you next month? [This question was asked in October]
Paderewski: I am a people person and I think that it takes a people person to be the Supervisor. Yes, I have experience in so many areas of Town Government. But I really think it takes passion about the people you are serving and getting them what they need to make their lives better. Some people call this “filling their potholes” but it is so much more. It is improving the quality of their lives. It is taking some headache that bothers them and trying to get that off their list of irritations. It is being a problem solver. It is being a good listener. It is not being someone who wants to do all the talking. It is someone who cares and wants to help. I have those qualifications.
Patch: Where do you stand on the Chappaqua Crossing retail plan?
Paderewski: I just completed a letter to the residents on my position of this. I am in favor of moving forward with controlled development at CC. I am in favor of getting a good market there along with a gym that has a pool that can be used by the High School. The revenue lost by not developing there will cost residents of New Castle at least $1.5M. This will affect our Town and Schools. It is the Town’s responsibility to develop this property.
Patch: If the TB approves rezoning and changing the master plan for the retail proposal before you take office, would you support repealing the changes?
Paderewski: No for two reasons. First, I am in favor of the rezoning and second because there will be lawsuits and we will lose. Please remember the Berenson Case.
Patch: Would you support either a repeal of conifer Realty’s affordable housing special permit or a planned Article 78 lawsuit from local opposition?
Patch: What are the similarities between the office of Town Administrator and Supervisor? What skills are you already putting into practice that could help if elected?.
Paderewski: The Town Administrator is administrative position. The Supervisor is elected and has policy making responsibility. Very different positions. I have worked for the Town for 27+ years. I have worked under 7 Town Supervisors. I think this has been a great training ground for me.
Patch: From what I have read, the town board's practice has been to interview volunteer board applicants in executive sessions, which are closed to the public. For example, I understand that was a contentious topic in a recent New Castle NOW story about the lack of a planning board appointee. In contrast, Mount Kisco's Village Board of Trustees does interviews in what are essentially ad-hoc work sessions, before regular meetings and before they're recorded. Would you support adopting that model, or do you feel the current model is superior?
Paderewski: I don’t know if the Town’s model is “superior” but I do think it affords an individual his/her privacy. I believe an applicant deserves privacy when they apply for a position, any position. If there are several applicants, those not chosen have a right to their privacy that they were not selected. The press should not have that information to mention that they applied and that they were not chosen.
Patch: What changes would you like to see for downtown Chappaqua and downtown Millwood if you are elected?
Paderewski: Chappaqua—Sidewalks fixed, including the infrastructure, new lighting, bump outs, etc. Millwood, sidewalk extension as I proposed in the Tentative Budget and is supported by the Millwood Task Force
Patch: The town board is currently considering participation in a multi-municipal property revaluation effort. Would you support having New Castle participate?Paderewski: Actually New Castle is participating with several other municipalities in going out to bid for revaluation. After the bids are back each municipality, individually, can decide if it wishes to participate. The decision to participate will depend on cost. We don’t know the cost yet.
Patch: What is your position on the potential acquisition of the Twin Oaks Swim and Tennis Club property? If you support the town buying it, what use would you like to see on it?
Paderewski: If the TB decides to purchase TOs, I would use it for recreation purposes: camp, public/private partnership for tennis court, fields, pool, and other recreational activities
Patch: What is your position on The Spa at New Castle, which is the proposed mix of condos, hotel rooms, spa and restaurant for the former Legionaries of Christ site off of Route 128?
Paderewski: I think this might be a good use of the property. Of course all environmental issues would need to be addressed. However, it would put the property back on the tax rolls.
Patch: Some folks in the community, based on other media reporting and social media posts, have raised your son's employment with the town's Department of Public Works as being a conflict of interest issue. What practices have you undertaken in the past to avoid it and what practices would you undertake if elected?
Paderewski: I have filed with the Board of Ethics and they have found no conflict. You may FOIL for that decision. I file this annually and would continue to do so if elected.
Patch: Do you support extending Westchester County's sewer district to downtown Millwood? If so, what measures would you take to persuade county officials and lawmakers to approve it?
Paderewski: Not only do I support sewers in Millwood, I would support sewers anywhere we could get them!
Patch: What do you think of the town board's current relationship with the Chappaqua school board, as well as the school boards of its other overlapping school districts? What changes, if any, would you like to see for relations?
Paderewski: I think the relationship between the Town and its School Board is very important. Shared services between the two is one area that comes to mind immediately. Meetings quarterly as well I think would be very helpful to share areas of interest and concern is important as well.
Patch: Do you anticipate a time in the next two years when the town board may to vote to override the property tax levy cap?
Paderewski: We are fortunate for the third year in a row we have been able to present a budget without having to override the tax cap. It is hard to predict the future because there may be something that arises that we did not anticipate. Of course it will be our goal to stay within the cap but it is too early to tell.
Patch: What do you think of the master plan update process as it's arranged now? What changes, if there are any, would you make to it?
Paderewski: I believe we have a great process in place now. We have a terrific Town Planner who is leader the charge with a great bi-partisan Steering Committee and now we are looking for residents to participate.